Invensys was yesterday forced to clarify that it was not in offer talks after the engineer's chief executive speculated that its partner, China Southern Rail (CSR), could do a deal if the price was right.
Ulf Henriksson, who visited China last week as part of a British trade delegation, was quoted on Saturday as saying: "I believe that CSR has the possibility of acquiring Invensys, in principle, in its logic, as long as shareholders accept the price."
However, he said his preference would be for the Chinese company to take a minority stake. The comments sent shares in Invensys up to a seven-month high yesterday morning, although they pared gains briefly after it issued a statement downplaying the comments.
"Invensys confirms that it has not received an approach nor had any discussions regarding a possible offer for the company or about a strategic partner taking a minority stake," the company said.
However, analysts at Collins Stewart said such a deal made sense for Invensys, which is a specialist in rail signalling and controls that regulate process from nuclear power to washing machines. It competes with companies such as Alstom, GE and Honeywell, who could step in if CSR made a move, analysts said.
The shares closed up 9.1 per cent at 347.9p last night.